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The King is Dead Long Live the King!

Long live the king! The king is dead!” After a new monarch is crowned in many nations, there is a custom of making a formal proclamation. Despite its seeming inconsistency, the phrase serves two purposes: it informs the public about the death of the former monarch and it assures them of continuity by praising the new monarch.

This idiom has recently gained a lot of traction as a recurring phrase.

 The phrase frequently appears as a headline for articles, editorials, or advertising with themes of succession or replacement because it is memorable (in part because of epanalepsis) and because of its historical relevance. A famous quote attributed to Robert Cecil, one of the League of Nations’ architects, was delivered at the organization’s closing session “The League no longer exists. The United Nations should continue to thrive.”

Le Roi est mort, Vive le Roi! is an English translation of the French phrase first uttered in 1422, upon the ascension of Charles VII to the French monarchy following the death of his father, Charles VI. At the moment the coffin bearing the former king’s remains dropped into the vault of Saint Denis Basilica, the Duke of Uzès, a senior peer of France, would typically make the statement.


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Le mort saisit le vif refers to the principle that following the death of a monarch, power immediately passes to the next in line. As the saying goes, “The King is dead,” when a king dies, it is announced. The heir who takes over as monarch immediately after the death of the previous monarch is meant by the phrase “Long live The King!”

French was the language of the nobles at the time, and the statement was swiftly adopted as symbolizing the same tradition that had existed in England since the death of Henry III in 1272 when Edward I was away fighting in the Crusades. The Royal Council declared, “The throne shall never be empty; the country shall never be without a ruler,” to prevent a war of succession from breaking out over the order of succession.

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So, Edward was anointed king right away, and he ruled from abroad until he heard of his father’s death and came home. The French aristocracy is another prime example. The French monarchy had previously been led by Louis XV, who was succeeded by Louis XVI. At around 11 p.m. on 10 May 1774, King Louis XV of France passed away. His heir apparent, Louis-Auguste, le Dauphin, became King Louis XVI of France. The saying “the king is dead, long live the king!” encapsulates the swift transfer of power.

After the death of a monarch in Denmark, the prime minister makes an official pronouncement from the balcony of Christiansborg Palace (the Danish Parliament building): “Kongen level, kongen er dd” (hail the king, the king is dead). Due to the establishment of the hereditary and absolute monarchy by Frederick III in 1660, the coronation ceremony was discontinued.

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Given that the king was now solely responsible to God, the crown was no longer something that could be conferred only after the king’s father died and was recognized by the nobility and the church but was instead a right of the king from birth. The monarch’s authority over the State was once again constrained with the implementation of constitutional monarchy in 1849, but his right to the throne was not challenged.

The concept of immediate transferral of power (i.e., the heir to the throne becoming a new monarch immediately on the death of his predecessor) is used in some monarchs, such as the United Kingdom, to avoid an interregnum. This well-known expression represents an individual form of power known as Auctoritas, and it denotes the unbroken rule of a sovereign.

While in some monarchies the new monarch’s reign does not begin until a coronation or similar ceremony, the United Kingdom’s constitutional monarchy allows for the immediate rule. For example, in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the monarchs were elected, which resulted in lengthy intervals between reigns.

The Polish primate acted as an interrex during the era (ruler between kings). The transfer of auctoritas (Kantorowicz used the synonym term, here, of Dignitas) from the defunct sovereign to the current one was demonstrated by Ernst Kantorowicz’s famous theory of the king’s two bodies (1957).

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In January 1936, when King George V was succeeded by his son King Edward VIII (who eventually abdicated), the phrase “The King is dead, long live The King!” was legitimately used for the last time in the United Kingdom.

At the end of his national televised statement on the death of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej on October 13, 2016, Thailand’s Prime Minister announced, “The Kingdom of Thailand is at peace.” “As of today, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, Rama IX, has left this world. A toast to the new King, may he reign long and prosper.”

The term can be modified to reflect the fact that the United Kingdom and other nations allow for a female monarch to succeed to the throne

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